“You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.”
I’m sure you’ve thought this when someone you know and/or love says negative things about the church. If not, then this post is not for you. I know I said it many times before my faith transition (and thought it many more times than I actually said it). I can understand it, too. When someone disparages something that means so much to you, it can feel like a personal attack. Probably, in some instances, you really have been personally attacked for your beliefs. For this post, I’m not going to try to defend the position of the disaffected speaking negatively about the church. Rather, I’d like to take a different approach.
I’d like you to take a week, just a week, and leave the church alone. I’m not saying you need to actually leave the church, stop believing, read anti-Mormon literature, attend atheist events, drink coffee or alcohol, do drugs, have reckless sex, worship Satan, or any other thing you feel is immoral. In fact, keep your morals exactly as they are, it will be more representative of what many experience during a faith crisis. Just try leaving the church alone for one week.
- Don’t talk about church. When you have a conversation with someone and church or the gospel comes up, make note of it then change the subject.
- Don’t post anything about church on social media. When someone you know posts something church/gospel related, make note of it.
- Don’t send out any email with church/gospel related topics. When you receive an email with something church/gospel related, make note of it. This includes the emails forwarded with faith-promoting rumors…you know the ones. Do the same for any letters received in the mail.
- Don’t send out any text messages related to church or the gospel. When you receive one, make note of it.
- When at a family event, don’t mention anything about the church, but make note of times when others do.
- Don’t do anything with your church calling. If someone calls you, bow out of the call gracefully and pick it up the following week, but make note of the call (or email, text, etc).
- Here is the really tough one. Don’t think about church. When a though comes to mind that relates to the church, make note of it, then move on to a new topic.
I’ve only asked you to do this for a week. It isn’t that long. You can can even pick the week so that it falls on a week where you don’t have as many church responsibilities. If you’re opposed to skipping church just once, then start the week right after church lets out and end the week as you get dressed for church the following Sunday.
That’s it. Just try it for a week. When you’re done, come back and we’ll talk about how your week went. We’ll talk about the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult, and what it means to you to “leave the church and leave it alone”. We’ll talk about the notes you took during the week. We’ll talk about the times you wanted to strike up a conversation with someone, or contribute to a conversation, but couldn’t think about anything that didn’t somehow relate to the church. I look forward to our discussion.